July is Savings Month in South Africa and this year, the focus is firmly placed on engaging the youth with the theme, #crazywaystosave.

The South African Savings Institute (Sasi), with support from Absa and the Industrial Development Corporation, launched July Savings Month at The Maslow Hotel, Sandton on 26 June, with discussions sparking a national conversation on how everyone can find ways to save.

The discussion was facilitated by financial journalist Arabile Gumede and featured leading voices in personal finance including finance coach, Mapalo Makhu from Women and Finance; award-winning personal finance journalist Maya Fisher-French; Samke Mhlongo from Chief Executive of The Next Chapter (TNC) Wealth Partners; Nicollette Mashile from Financial Fitness Bunny and Sasi acting CEO and My Money author, Gerald Mwandiambira, to provide tangible savings insights.

Sasi Chairperson, Prem Govender and Sasi director Basil Maseko. Photo: Itumeleng Komana

Sasi chairperson, Prem Govender first gave statics that opened the floor for discussion,” South Africa’s household saving rate has declined to -0.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, while our household debt as a percentage of disposable income is currently 71.9 per cent, meaning that for every rand earned, nearly three quarters is spent on debt.” Govender continued to say that there was an urgent need to equip young people with the savings know-how that can directly impact their earning power, wealth creation abilities and happiness.

Makhu jumped right in and gave her “crazy ways to save” suggestions that left the audience astonished.

“How many of you here use the same water to bathe your children or attend events like these just to get free food?” she asked. “As crazy as this sounds these are starting points that if used strategically, could save you some coins.”

Mapalo Makhu from Women and Finance gives her crazy ways to save suggestions. Photo: Itumeleng Komana

Makhu advised the youth to also beware of spending on big brands just to look good on social media but Mhlongo suggested otherwise, “I will unashamedly, wear my Gucci and Louis Vuitton,” said Mhlongo. “The trick is knowing when you should spend and how you actually use social media.” Mhlongo did say that she gets paid to post some of her pictures wearing a certain brand because she has mastered the art of using social media to her advantage. “This is actually another crazy way to save, use social media, target brands and make money.”

According to Mwandiambira, saving is not necessarily dependent on income; it is largely dependent on willpower and discipline.

“Hiccups in your commitment to saving, if you don’t plan this out carefully, will lead to a feeling of failure. Talking to a financial adviser early to help simplify the complexities around saving and investing will help you to plan your financial future while pointing out any gaps in your plan.

Samke Mhlongo from TNC Wealth Partners and Nicollette Mashile from Finacial Fitness Bunny were part of the panel discussion. Photo: Itumeleng Komana

Mwandiambira concluded that it is important for South Africans to move away from negativity around our savings rate and look towards developing innovative savings alternatives and reinforcing positive savings behaviour, which the Happiness Index shows leads to a happier nation.

Thato Mmmapale and Msizi Mbatha are ready to save crazy this July. Photo: Itumeleng Komana

“Cultivating a culture of savings and promoting alternative savings solutions in all spheres remains the focus of Sasi and our dedicated partners. Savings Month has been designed to remind consumers to strive towards financial freedom and move away from remaining continuously vulnerable. Let’s find the #crazywaystosave!”

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